Training can sometimes be a bit of a hit and miss affair. As the trainer you have all the content that you have to deliver and you know it really well, but we all know that our students walk out with only part of what we actually delivered. And in some cases not nearly as much as we hoped they would.
This was highlighted to me recently when one of my clients participated in my training for the second time with a new cohort from her organisation. At the end of the day she came up to me and gave me some wonderful feedback. “I just wanted to let you know how impressed I was with the new section of the training that you added just before lunch. It was fabulous and helped me to really get clear on that topic. I don’t know why you didn’t do something like that in my first workshop?”
I assured her that the section was indeed in her training too, but she didn’t believe me. On the second day she showed up with her original training manual, and while she was embarrassed to find that the handouts where there, she had made no notes on that page and insisted it was because I had skipped that section the first time around.
Learning is a two way process and there are many reasons why this may have occurred. Some of them include:
- Level of concentration – the brain only learns what it pays attention to. She could have been distracted by something going at that time during the first training and completely missed that section;
- Learning only sticks when it has something to attach too – the brain works like a huge network and unrelated facts come and go in the blink of an eye. For learning to truly “stick” it has to be attached to something else, something already known. Maybe the information was too unrelated to her thinking at that time and was not retained. However, second time around the neural pathways were in place and the information “locked in” exactly where it was needed and made the most sense to her;
- Volume of Content – while we think we are coping with massive amounts of information (and we are) how much of it really “gets in” is still related to brain capacity. The rule of thumb about most people being able to manage between 3 and 7 chunks of information still apply. Maybe the amount of information in day one in the initial training was just too much information considering her level of knowledge when she entered the training room. So by the time this segment of information came around her “brain was full” ( so to speak);
- Learning Style – we each have a preferred way of viewing the world and a preferred way we like to take in information. Possibly something about the way I was presenting at the time was not engaging for her and so she stopped paying attention (point 1) and did something more meaningful to her at the time.
So over the next few blogs I will be looking specifically at strategies that you can use in your training so you can optimise the amount of information your students take in and retain.
Author: Melinda Zanetich - Director & Master Trainer - 4MAT 4Learning - Asia Pacific Region